So Tidal Is Its Pull – Jekyll North End

The night was soft and thick and black and warm as velvet, silky on my skin, smelling of iodine and salt and crepe myrtle and that ineffable, skin-prickling saline emanation that says ‘ocean’ to me whenever I smell it, hundreds of miles inland. It always moves me close to tears, so visceral, so old and tidal is its pull. I have often thought that it is the first smell we know, the amniotic smell of our first, secret sea.” ― Anne Rivers Siddons, Downtown

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I wrote my introductory thoughts for this series in the South End post.

Here’s a reminder of my imaginary sectioning of Jekyll Island, for reference:

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In this post, I’ll focus on the beach at the north end of Jekyll (the right-hand map), from the Clam Creek Picnic Area to the Villas by the Sea. (Clam Creek marsh itself will be a separate posting.) Also check out my previous posting about the mid-beach. All photos were taken by me in December 2015.

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NORTH END (CLAM CREEK) BEACH

The marsh at Clam Creek is probably my favourite part of the island, for its ever-changing colours, chance of spotting interesting birds (among others, I’ve seen roseate spoonbills, tricoloured herons, greater yellowlegs, bluebirds, and painted buntings here) — as well as deer, raccoon, the long-needled pine, wildflowers, hollies, butterflies — and the peaceful bike path through the marsh.

But the beach has also become a favourite place to visit. This is the bit of the island that faces St. Simon’s Island, which is just north of it, across the St. Simon’s Sound, through which very large cargo ships travel regularly. My photos don’t do justice to the appearance of these monstrously big wayfarers dwarfing St. Simon’s coastline, a shrimp boat, the beach and Jekyll shoreline, the horizon.

ARCcargoshipSSInorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015
cargoshipshrimpboatoceannorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015ARCcargoshipbeachnorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015ARCcargoshipbeachgullsnorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015ARCcargoshipclosebeachnorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015

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Some people call this beach “Driftwood Beach,” erroneously, because the bare tree trunks and limbs found here haven’t drifted over the sea but are what remain of the trees that used to grow here, fully alive, until their roots were completely exposed as sand, dirt, ground washed away from beneath them. It’s the way of barrier islands for beaches to wash from north to south, and in this case the natural process is artificially accelerated by the dredging of St. Simon’s Sound to make it deep enough for the cargo ships. So the north beach is losing ground, literally, and the trees are mute witness to it. I call it a “boneyard beach.”

treestreeboneyardbeachviewnorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015treeshangingontobeachnorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015beachtreegraveyardnorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015interestingshapedgraveyardtreenorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015treegraveyardalgaerootsnorthbeachJekyll21Dec2015treegraveyardshadowsnorthbeachJekyll21Dec2015insiderootsnorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015stumpsalgaeyellowwaternorthbeachJekyll21Dec2015barkongraveyardtreenorthbeachJekyll21Dec2015

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Birds like to feed in the water that collects around the trunks and roots, and the algae wrapping the wood can be quite lovely.

sanderlingsbirdsinwaterpuddlenorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015greenalgaeontreebonesnorthbeachJekyll27Dec2015
greenalgaeonlogbnorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015.jpg

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I saw a lot of willets and sanderlings on the north beach this time.

Willets:

Sanderlings (upper right is a juvenile):

Also some terns and gulls:

royalternsgullbirdsnorthbeachJekyll21Dec2015
royal terns and a gull

And a damselfly! There weren’t many dragonflies or damselflies to be found this time of year, so it was a pleasant surprise.

reddamselflyanotherviewnorthbeachJekyll29Dec2015
red damselfly

Pelicans are always flying by in small groups but are hard to photograph.

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Non-flying fauna (and evidence of fauna) of interest included ghost crab burrows, onuphis (soda straw or parchment) worms, plume worms, sea pork, the waste pile of an acorn worm, a squareback crab (I think), a cannonball jellyfish, an olive shell with a hermit crab living in it, dogs, and horses with riders.

crabnestnorthbeachJekyll21Dec2015
ghost crab burrow with fecal balls
birdfeetfeathersbyghostcrabholenorthbeachJekyll29Dec2015
bird feet and feathers by a ghost crab burrow
fourstrawmysterysandClamCreekJekyll27Dec2015
Onuphis (parchment) worms
strawlikemysterybeachsandnorthbeachJekyll27Dec2015
Onuphis (parchment) worms
onuphiswormparchmentwormtrackssandnorthbeachJekyll27Dec2015
onuphis worm tracks
plumewormshellsnorthbeachClamCreekJekyll27Dec2015
plume worm tube
seaporknorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015
sea pork
pooplikepilesandnorthbeachJekyll27Dec2015
waste pile of an acorn worm, either a golden (Balanoglossus aurantiacus) or helical (Saccoglossus kowalevski) – thanks to Tony Martin for the ID
littleblackcrabcrabtracksnorthbeachJekyll21Dec2015
squarebacked crab
deadjellyfishnorthbeachJekyll21Dec2015
cannonball jellyfish washed up
oliveshellwithhermitcrabinsideClamCreekJekyll27Dec2015
olive shell with hermit crab inside
holesinsandnorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015
Someone lives here!

fourdogsonbeachnorthbeachJekyll21Dec2015horsebackridersbeachnorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015

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I’ll leave us with a few images of the beach.

bridgefrombeachnorthbeachJekyll29Dec2015
Lanier Bridge from north beach

northbeachskyJekyll21Dec2015

pinetreespineneedlesbesidebeachsunlightnorthbeachJekyll21Dec2015
pine trees and needles alongside the beach
softwhitesandreduningnorthbeachJekyll21Dec2015
soft white sand, grasses re-duning part of the north beach
pinebarklogbeachnorthbeachJekyll21Dec2015
pine log resting on sand

northbeachsandsunlightClamCreekJekyll27Dec2015beachnorthbeachJekyll21Dec2015

JohnsonrocksanvillasnorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015
The Johnson Rocks and boardwalk to Villas

beachoceanshorelinenorthbeachJekyll24Dec2015treesbeachoceannorthbeachJekyll21Dec2015

wharfsunset455pmnorthbeachJekyll27Dec2015
Sunset over north end fishing pier

And my favourite shot, because it looks so nostalgic in this light:

sunlightontreesislandabovebeachnorthbeachJekyll27Dec2015

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“The few trees still upright were stripped of their branches, lonely flagpoles without a nation to claim them.” ― Mike Mullin, Ashfall, speaking of volcano damage

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Exceedingly helpful if you’re trying to identify anything found on the Golden Isles beaches are Life Traces of the Georgia Coast: Revealing the Unseen Lives of Plants and Animals (2013), by Anthony J. Martin (website here) and Living Beaches of Georgia and the Carolinas: A Beachcomber’s Guide (2011) by Blair and Dawn Witherington. Especially useful for identifying anything natural on Jekyll is A Guide to a Georgia Barrier Island, Featuring Jekyll Island with St. Simons and Sapelo Islands (1996) by Taylor Schoettle, ill. Jennifer Smith.

 

2 Comments on “So Tidal Is Its Pull – Jekyll North End

  1. Pingback: So Tidal Is Its Pull – Jekyll South End | A Moveable Garden

  2. Pingback: So Tidal Is Its Pull – Jekyll Mid-Island Beach | A Moveable Garden

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